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“What Could I Possibly Say?” Addressing Racist Dialogue in the Classroom

How might a teacher address the following moment in a college classroom? Students are discussing a course reading about the rising cost of higher education and President Biden’s plan to address growing student loan debt. Three white students comment on the subject. A fourth student, the only Black woman in the class, chimes in with the observation, “I don’t think Biden’s loan forgiveness strategies address racial disparities in higher education.” One of the classmates responds, “It’s not Biden’s fault. He can only do as much as Congress will allow. So we need to stop complaining and attacking Biden.” First, would the teacher recognize that there is a problem with the dialogue? If they recognize a problem, how might they address it? What would they say? And how would they say it so as not to isolate any students? 

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